Božo Skoko

PhD Božo Skoko

Božo Skoko is an full professor at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Zagreb, where he is head of the Public Relations postgraduate study. His scientific interests are: public relations and communications, international relations, national identity and image, as well as media. He is the co-founder of Millenium promocija, the leading Croatian public relations agency. He is a long-time strategic communications consultant. He is a former journalist and editor with Croatian Television. He is the author of seven books and over seventy scientific papers on public relations, the media and managing the identity and image of Croatia. He is a columnist with the daily newspaper Večernji list.
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Bosnia and Herzegovina Branding Project

Presentation of Strategic Guidelines for Branding of Bosnia-Herzegovina

In the presence of Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina Mladen Ivanić, the Foreign Trade Chamber of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Friedrich Ebert Foundation presented the Strategic Guidelines for Branding of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo on Mach, 16th. The guidelines were presented by Dr. Božo Skoko.

The specific strategic guidelines for branding of Bosnia-Herzegovina were presented as part of the Conference on the Impact of Bosnia-Herzegovina's Image on the Country's Growth and Development. The conference that took place in Sarajevo was organized by the Foreign Trade Chamber of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Friedrich Ebert Foundation and included the speeches of Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina Mladen Ivanić and EU Parliament Member Tanja Fajon. The author of this strategic document is Professor Božo Skok, PhD of the University of Zagreb. He is an expert of Millenium promocija agency and one of the leading Croatian and regional experts for country image management. The support of Friedrich Ebert Foundation enabled the series of public opinion surveys in Bosnia-Herzegovina carried out in the past years in order to establish the mutual perception of Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs and their attitude towards the present and future of Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as to research the country's image in the neighboring countries. Based on the information thus obtained, a discussion with leading BH experts took place and additional research of expert opinions was carried out in order to identify the potentials of BH identity that could enhance the world's perception of the country. This methodological approach has enabled a high level of consent, not only among members of various BH ethnic groups, but also among tourism, economy and promotion experts. This is why this edition is a key document for further BH identity and image management activities.

According to the results of the survey presented by Professor Skoko and carried our by Millenium promocija, BH citizens believe that Bosnia-Herzegovina's greatest assets for creation of its new identity and finding its place on the world map include the mentality of its people, their hospitality and straightforwardness as well as its natural attractions and diversities. To a somewhat lesser extent, BH citizens see as its assets the country's multicultural character and the fact that it is a point where different cultures and religions and East and West meet. In the opinion of BH citizens, the best integrative factor that could enhance the three ethnic groups' joint efforts in creating a common future is mutual business cooperation, followed by culture and cultural cooperation. Only 16% of Bosniaks, 10% of Croats and 10% of Serbs believe that politics can constitute an integrative factor.

In the neighboring countries, Bosnia-Herzegovina is identified with the war and its consequences, and then by its cuisine and unique lifestyle. In the rest of the world it is rather unknown or is connected with war, ethnic problems and non-functioning.

The experts that took part in developing BH as a brand believe that a change of the country's image in the world can hardly be expected without substantial reforms and changes on the ground. That implies a more functional government, change of mentality and citizens' attitude towards their own country, development of economy, a better tourist offer and better infrastructure. The strategic document identifies a number of Bosnian-Herzegovinian attractions, events, destinations, cultural places of interest and great men about whom there is consent and that could be used for the country's promotion in the world. The document also presents ways and trends in branding and promotion of states – something that has become a priority of many governments because there is evidence that the image of a state directly reflects on export of products, attraction of tourists, foreign investments and the like.

"The branding of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a post-conflict state is a rather challenging job. However, despite the fact that there are three different perspectives on the present and future of this country, there are also clear and distinctive elements all three ethnic groups share and are proud of. That could be the starting point. It is important to reach a consensus on what makes BH different from other countries and which is its competitive edge in the region and also in Europe. Next, ways of attracting global attention and telling the story about these distinctive characteristics should be determined, thus neutralizing associations with the war. However, in order to succeed in that, it is not enough just to spruce up the reality or portray the country in a positive light. Without concrete improvements in politics and economy, behavior and supply, and raising awareness of own potentials, it would be a short-winded propaganda", said Professor Skoko, who led the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's research team and whose book, A State as a Brand, is considered a bible of a sort of the branding of contemporary states.

The presentation of the guidelines was followed by a panel discussion moderated by the acclaimed journalist Goran Milić. The participants of the discussion included Enisa Bekto, one of the most successful BH entrepreneurs and CEO of Bekto Precise; Amer Kapetanović, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia-Herzegovina; and Dragan Milović, Assistant Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations.

The level of the participants of the event and the fact that the project was presented on the day when the European Commission opened European prospects for BH by activating the Stabilization and Association Agreement raise hopes that the activities towards the improvement of BH image will be set in motion after all. And BH will have a great opportunity to present itself to the world in as little as in a few months, during the visit of the increasingly popular Pope Francis.